CHAPTER 11: "The Tin Lizzie..."

"What's on your mind, mija?" asked Tammy as they were packing to leave the following Monday morning. Michelle was just sitting on her suitcase, gazing out at the backyard with a dreamy, almost dazed look on her face.

"Oh...I just hate leaving," Michelle replied absently. Tammy came up to her and put her hands on Michelle's shoulders.

"I know what you mean."

* * * * * *

It had been one of the most incredible weekends of Michelle's life. The day following that memorable afternoon at "their" beach, they had still been so worn out from it (and Michelle found she was rather sore in some interesting places), they had decided to hang around the house, enjoying the swimming pool. Despite being tired and sore from the previous day, they still wound up making love several times, in and out of pool (making love in warm water was the most incredibly erotic thing Michelle had ever experienced), dozing in each other's arms in between.

That evening, they'd gone into town to a small theatre that showed "art films" that Michelle had heard about. The film they had seen -- a French film entitiled Daphne et Chloe Sur la Mer seemed to bore Tammy -- but she sat with Michelle patiently in the darkness, holding and caressing her hand. And there were a few rather erotic scenes that made up for some of the lack of plot and spectacle.

Afterwards, they found a gourmet pizza restaurant, had a late supper, then returned to the house where they sat in the shallow end of the pool together, drinking wine and talking. Michelle was beginning to realize that, despite their powerful attraction and bond, there was some significant differences between them.

"I get the feeling you didn't care for that movie we saw," Michelle had said.

Tammy had sighed. "Mija -- I -- I'm just not into the kind of movies where you have to -- read subtitles...or where they have all that symbolic shit -- y'know?"

"You really didn't like it?"

"Oh, sweetie -- you've got to understand -- I'm more into something I can laugh at -- or something romantic."

"You didn't that that was romantic?" Michelle had said, somewhat surprised.

"Well -- there wasn't really any plot."

"I think that was the point."

"See!" Tammy had pointed out, laughing. "Even you didn't get it!"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Oh -- nothing," Tammy had said, backing down. "There was one part I did like."

"It was the part when Danille and Cedra were standing on that bluff -- "


"And then, Danille reached over like this -- " Tammy put a hand around the back of Michelle's neck " -- and did this." And with that, Tammy had just moved her lips caressingly back and forth against Michelle's.

The two of them spent the next hour kissing and "making out" in the pool before retiring to the bedroom for the rest of what turned out to be another passionate night

The best part of the weekend for Michelle, however, had been the day before. The two of them at driven further down the coast to a park where the trees grew practically down to the shore, and the sand-dunes were sometimes fifty feet high. They spent the whole day walking hand-in-hand along the shore, picking up sea-shells, laughing, talking, and sharing thoughts, feelings, and dreams. Tammy had confessed her dream was to be a recording star.

"So why don't you go for it?"

"I was about to," Tammy had replied, with a trace of sadness in her voice.

"What happened?"

"It's a long story," she had sighed. "I'll tell you about it sometime." She paused, looking out toward the sea. "For now, I'll just say that most of the people in the music business are a bunch of low-life shits."

"I'm sorry," Michelle had said. "You know, if I could, I'd help you."

Tammy had turned and smiled. "You're sweet," she had said, kissing her. "But hey -- enough about me. I want to hear about you."

Michelle's dreams had never been quite as ambitious. She was quite content in her job at the library, although she had often wished she could be of more help to people less fortunate -- especially women who had been abused, battered or abandoned. "When I see that, I just feel like -- if I hadn't been so lucky -- or careful -- I might have wound up just like one of them."

"Is that the real reason why you never fell in love before?"

"You mean with the boyfriends I've had?" Michelle had had to think about that. True, Ahmed, Dirk and Carl had all been jerks -- but while Michelle had been disappointed, she hadn't really suffered any real long-term heartbreak. Was it because, despite her initial feelings of infatuation (oh Mishi -- just call it what it was: LUST), she had held all three of them at an emotional arm's-length? Was it possible that, just maybe, their behavior toward her was a response to the defensive wall Michelle had built around her heart? Had she not even really given any of them a fair chance?

Maybe -- maybe not. It was all moot, now; those "defensive walls" had crumbled before the onslaught of the beautiful Latina girl next to her. For the first time, Michelle felt she belonged with someone -- heart, body and soul.

"I never really gave it much thought, before," Michelle had finally confessed. Then, she turned and gazed into Tammy's eyes for a long time. Finally, Tammy had started giggling nervously.

"What?" she said.

Michelle had smiled and placed a hand against Tammy's cheek. "I know this is a cliche -- but...I...feeling the way I do...right now...I think I'm the luckiest girl on the planet right now."

"Me too," said Tammy, as they slipped their arms around wach other and kissed for what seemed like an eternity, as the sea winds blew and the waves crashed on the shore.

It had been one of the most romantic moments in Michelle's life...

* * * * * *

...and now it was Monday morning -- time to return to the city -- their "real lives".

Michelle leaned back against Tammy's breast. "I wish it would never end," she said, dreamily.

Tammy kissed her forehead. "There'll be other times, mija," she said.

Michelle nodded. She looked up, smiled. She and Tammy shared one more long, lingering kiss, then, reluctantly, they gathered up their bags, loaded up the roadster, and left for Port Landers.

They took their time going home, taking side roads that hugged the shoreline, meandering through the little fishing and logging hamlets that dotted the Oregon coast as they drove north.

They finally arrived back in Port Landers early that evening. A fine drizzle had started, forcing them to put the top up. It was nearly dark when they pulled up in front of Michelle's building.

"Well...home again, home again," murmured Michelle absently.

"Yeah," replied Tammy, shutting the motor off.

Michelle turned and looked at Tammy, taking her hand gently. "Thank you so much," she said.

"Thank you, mi dolce," Tammy replied. She leaned over and kissed Michelle's mouth tenderly; they wound up kissing and "making out" for nearly half an hour. Finally, the windows got so fogged up, Michelle had to open a window. Both of them were panting slightly, giggling at the same time.

"Sure you don't want to come up and spend the night?" asked Michelle.

"Oh, mi dolce -- you know I'd love to -- but I've got to get Antonio's car back to him" (Michelle was surprised that the mention of Antonio's name could still send a sudden stab of jealousy through her) "and anyway -- you've got a long day tomorrow."

Michelle sighed and smiled wistfully. "I suppose you're right," she admitted.

"I'll call you tomorrow night," Tammy assured her.

"You know I won't be home until 9:30 or 10," Michelle replied.

"It's all right."

Michelle kissed her one last time. "I love you," she said. She started to pull the doorlatch, when Tammy put a hand on her arm.

"Wait!" she said, covering Michelle's mouth with her own. They shared another long, searching kiss, then Tammy said, "I wanted to ask you something."


"I want you to come down to where I work Thursday."

"Thursday night?"

Tammy nodded.

"The 'Tin Lizzie?'"

Tammy smiled. "I'm performing with the band that would mean a lot to me if you would be there."

"I woudn't miss it for anything," Michelle assured her.

Tammy kissed her once more. "I'll sing something special just for you."

"Oh, don't have to do that -- "

"I want to...quierme mucho, mi amor."

Michelle looked at Tammy with narrowed eyelids. Licking her lips seductively, she murmured, "Oh, sweetness...I love it when you talk dirty to me."

They both laughed and kissed one last time. "Go on, get outta here!" said Tammy. "Get some rest. You'll need it Thursday."

"I can't wait, said Michelle, stepping out of the car and grabbing her bags from behind the seat.

"Buenos noches, mija," said Tammy.

"Good night, honey -- talk to you soon!"

And with that, Tammy drove off into the misty evening.

* * * * * *

The apartment felt emptier than usual when Michelle walked in a few minutes later. So much had changed...before last Thursday morning, she hadn't minded being fact, she rather preferred it.

She had been parted from Tammy less than twenty minutes, and was missing her already.

The answering machine was beeping merrily; Michelle ignored it. Instead, she hauled her bags into the bedroom with the idea of unpacking. She threw the suitcase on her bed and opened it. The first thing catching her eye was the CD she had bought in Quadra Bay.

She picked it up and looked at the 'twenties typography. Slowly, she opened it. She gazed at the fuzzy black-and-white photo of the man her grandmother had been so in love with...over half a century before Michelle had even been born.

Hesitantly, she removed the CD from the plastic box, then, carefully holding it by the edges, carried it to the stereo CD player in the living room.

The music, while sounding strange to her, also sounded somewhat familiar. It vaguely resembled the sound-tracks of old Warner Brothers cartoons she'd watched as a child...but more -- sophisticated -- more complex, somehow. Before she knew it, she was enjoying it immensely. With the syncopations of the "Charleston" and the "Black Bottom Stomp" filling the rooms, her apartment suddenly didn't seem as empty. Even the title track -- the song that was Fletcher's expression of love for Michelle's grandmother -- seemed playful and bouncy, despite its subtle overtones of longing. I can't believe this stuff was only popular for ten years, thought Michelle. She wanted to dance, although she had no idea of what steps one would use to this style. The sound of "hot jazz" made her almost forget about missing Tammy, and made her unpacking chores almost effortless. Only ten short years, Michelle thought again.

Perhaps someday, she would do something about that.

* * * * * *

The next morning, she showed up at the library to find a large bouquet of roses on her desk -- a dozen that were a mix of yellow, pink and red, and a single white one in the middle. "Cherie -- do you know what this is about?"

"Sorry, Ms. Devereaux -- they were here when I arrived this morning."

"Some delivery boy brought 'em in about ten minutes ago," said Angie, walking into the room."

"I see..." said Michelle, thoughtfully.

"So who's the lucky guy?" asked Angie, non-chalantly.

Michelle just raised an eyebrow at her, then turned back to her desk and noticed the card. Slowly, she picked it up. Angie and Cherie both noticed.

"Wow...are you gonna read it?" asked Cherie.

Michelle glared at her, and then at Angie. "Don't you two have work to do?"

"Sorry, Ms. Devereaux," said Cherie quickly.

"Yeah -- sorry," echoed Angie, in a somewhat snide manner as was her wont.

As soon as Cherie was focused on her computer screen and Angie had left the area, Michelle opened the envelope.

Mija --

Tu es comuna promesa, comuna sonrisa, y el agua fresca en la dias caliente.

All my love,

-- T.L.C.

Michelle knew very little Spanish, but the intent was clear. Oh, sweet Tamara, she thought as a big smile spead over her face. Angie chose that moment to come back into the room.

"Well, well -- whoever this guy is, he sure knows how to cheer you up on a gray morning." She began to peek over the edge of the note, but Michelle quickly folded it and put it away.

"Angela -- mind your own business, please," Michelle said quietly yet firmly. She picked up the bouquet of roses and went in search of a vase and some water.

* * * * * *

"Hola ?"


"Michelle -- hi, sweetie!"

"Sorry I didn't call back last night -- Cherie crashed her computer yesterday and almost took the whole system with it -- "


"Our star secretary," Michelle said dryly. "Anyway, I finally had to call on some local cyber-jocks to come down and help us...I didn't get home until 10:30."

"I'm sorry, mija."

"Hey -- thank you so much for the roses! That was so sweet of you!"

"Oh, it was my pleasure. Glad you liked them."

"I miss you."

"Oh, mija -- I miss you too."

Michelle giggled. Ye gods, its only been two days --

"Are you still coming down tomorrow night?"

"Yes -- I'm not sure where the place is, though -- "

"Oh, that's no problem -- it's down by the Waterfront."

The Waterfront? Ye gods, that's -- "Look," said Michelle, "just give me the address and I'll take a cab down."

"104 Delancey Street."

Delancey Street? -- ye gods, that's --

"I think you'll like the place -- it's got a lot of history."

I don't doubt that, Michelle thought with some apprehension. Delancey Street wasn't one of the more savory parts of town after dark.

"Well, look -- I'm really tired, so I'll let you go."

"Okay, mija."

Wish you were here to curl up with."

"You know I wouldn't let you sleep, lover."

"I know," said Michelle with a smile. "I love you."

"I love you, too, mija. Sleep well."


* * * * * *

Michelle was nervous as she stepped out of the cab that had brought her down to the Waterfront District. It was one of the oldest parts of Port Landers -- some of the buildings dated from the mid-19th century, when the town had been a wild outpost on the bare edge of civilization, inhabited mostly by lumbermen, sailors, fur traders and the merchants who served them (including the women who peddled their bodies). For years, it had been the worst part of the city (one street was still known as "Dead Man's Alley." ) Several years ago, when Michelle was still in high school, the city council had cleaned the area up, declaring it an "historical district." This essentially meant that the disenfranchised "underclass" who had clung to the bare edge of existence there were driven out -- along with the assorted riff-raff and criminal element that had preyed on them. Slum tenements, seedy taverns and brothels were replaced with expensive condominiums, quaint cafes, museums, and the usual assortment of "tourist traps" and novelty shops. By day, it was an interesting and even pleasant area.

By night, however, a different crowd emerged -- people with all sorts of "alternative lifelstyles," panhandlers and grifters, college students out "slumming," pimps and prostitutes -- and even less savory types.

It was not the safest place for a woman to be walking alone.

Michelle had planned on "dressing to the nines" for her lover -- but when she realized where and when she would be going, she toned it all down a bit, settling on the blue demin skirt and a matching leotard -- then wearing her "rattiest," least conspicuous old raincoat over it with the hood pulled over. She did not want to attract attention.

The ploy seemed to work -- most of the people on the street ignored her as she walked from the taxi stand toward Delancey Street. Nonetheless, she kept her handbag inside her coat, firmly squeezed under her arm, and one hand tight around the can of pepper spray in her coat pocket. She had never been assaulted, sexually or otherwise; she had no desire to gain first-hand experience.

Suddenly, she felt a hard shove from the side. Immediately, she pulled out the pepper spray and whirled to find herself face-to-face with two odd androgenous creatures that looked to be refugees from a cheap sci-fi flick; both wore studded leather jackets; one had multi-colored hair in spikes (Michelle was reminded of ancient Gaulish warriors who stiffed their hair with lime); the other (a woman?) had a Marine-style crewcut, dyed neon green; both had numerous body piercings.

"Hey, watch it, you stupid old cunt!" screamed Spike-Hair.

"Sorry," muttered Michelle, turning and hurrying away. Good gods, what am I getting myself into?

She hadn't walked more than twenty yards when she heard a woman sobbing as though her heart would break. She looked around, briefly; it seemed to be coming out of a side alley.

What am I doing? thought Michelle as she cautiously looked around the corner. "Hello?" she said nervously. "Anyone there?"

In the dim light, she saw a figure huddled against a wall. Slowly, hesitantly, she approached. "Excuse me...everything okay?"

The woman turned her tear stained, dirty face up to look at Michelle. Her hair -- it might have been brown -- was dirty and disheveled; she looked as though she'd not bathed or eaten in days.

"My god..." Michelle gasped. No, she thought. No god had anything to do with this...

Whaddya want?" croaked the woman. She couldn't have been much older than Michelle, but she looked like she was past forty...

"I -- I'm sorry...I heard you crying...I -- "

"Ya wanna help? Ya gotta cigarette?"

"Uh -- sorry, I don't smoke."

"Shit..." the woman started sobbing again.

Gently, Michelle put a hand on the woman's shoulder. "Look, if I can help somehow -- "

"Ya got money?"

Michelle nodded. "A little...look, why don't you tell me what's going on?"

"Whaddya think, bitch? My old man left me, took everything but my three kids, I ain't had nothin' to eat in two days, the fuckin' scumlord's throwin' us out on the street next week! You think you can help? Fuck you!" Her sobbing redoubled.

Oh, my fucking god, thought Michelle. Rage welled up in her -- not at the poor creature who had just lashed out at her, but at the man -- the men -- the society -- that had put her where she was.

Unhesitantly, Michelle pulled out her handbag, and took out all her cash. "Here," she said. "It's not much -- "

The woman took the bills. "My god...there's gotta be seventy -- eighty bucks here..."

"Look, go feed yourself and your children...and here..." Michelle pulled out a pen and a slip of paper. "This is my number. You call me in the next couple of days...maybe I can think of a more permament solution..."

"Who are you?"


The woman sighed. "I'm Lianne," she said. "Look, I'm sorry -- "

It's all right -- just do what I said. And be sure and call me."

Lianne smiled sadly. "Thanks," she said.

At that, Michelle turned and left.

That was stupid, Michelle chided herself. That woman's probably just a drunk or drug addict -- and you just enabled her. Not only that, she'd just given the woman every last dollar she'd had with her -- and there were no ATM's around here...

Hope they take plastic at the Lizzie, Michelle thought.

She arrived a few minutes later at an ancient brick building. A few women -- dressed in a wide variety of styles ranging from demure to outrageous (and two who seemed to be disguised as men) stood around outside talking and laughing as they smoked. Michelle pulled her hood off and shook her hair, drawing a few appreciative looks. The neon sign above the door flashed: "The TIN LIZZIE -- Port Landers' Oldest Drinking Establishment."

"Hey, here by yourself?" Michelle felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned; it was one of the women dressed in a man's outfit. She was smoking a cigar.

She shuddered. "Uh -- I'm meeting someone."

The masculine woman laughed a deep, throaty laugh. "That's too bad...well hey, if she don't show up, I'll be glad to take her place."

"I'm sure," muttered Michelle. How'd she know I'm meeting a "she," she wondered. Slowly, something was starting to dawn on her about this place...

There was an engraved brass plaque outside the door.



The "Tin Lizzie" began life as "Muldoon's Tavern," a favorite watering hole for the sailors, fishermen and loggers that made up the early population of Port Landers. In 1904, Muldoon retired and sold the establishment to an Italian immigrant family, who ran the place as a restaurant and delicatessen. This continued throughout the 1920's and 30's as it served as a "front" for one of Port Landers' most infamous "speakeasies." In 1932, the "Ristorante D'ella Piazzo" fell victim to the Great Depression, and the building stood empty until 1940, when it was taken over by the government and used as a U.S.O. canteen for servicemen during World War II. Following the war, the place once more came under private ownership. The new owners, who named it "The Vanguard West," featured some of the best jazz artists of that time, including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk. As the area declined in the late 1950's and early 1960's, the "Vanguard West" moved uptown, and the building became one more deteriorating waterfront tavern until 1985, when Port Landers declared the Waterfront a historical district. The building was leased and remodeled by Dorothy Muldoon (great-granddaughter of the original owner)and Jeanette Wiloczky, who continue to run one of the most distinctive cocktail lounges in Port Landers.


Fascinating , Michelle thought as she finished reading.

"Hi there, sweet-stuff," said another woman's voice. Michelle felt a hand caressing her lower back. "Lookin' for somone to hang with?"

Michelle turned. The woman was wearing a very tight, short leather skirt, spike-heeled boots, and studded leather halter-top, and her head was shaved.

"Uh -- got someone, thanks," said Michelle, nervously.

The woman shrugged. "Sorry to hear that," she said, as she sauntered off.

What is this place? Michelle wondered as she finally opened the door and walked in.

The place was dimly lit, smoky -- and loud. The band on stage was playing at an ear-splitting decibel level. Michelle looked for Tammy, but didn't see her up there.

Then she noticed the clientele. Except for two of the musicians on stage and one waiter, there wasn't a man in the place. All women -- in mind-boggling variety. Some were average looking, dressed in everyday clothing -- nobody you'd notice at first glance. Others were as outrageous as the shaven-headed "leather queen" who'd come on to her outside -- and more so. Not a few seemed rather mannish, even to the point of wearing men's clothing and acting like men. Many of the women around her were looking at her the way men would at Ashley's sometimes.

Suddenly, Michelle felt very uncomfortable.

"Mija!" Michelle turned.

Tammy was looking up and waving from a table where she was sitting with a number of other women. She sprang to her feet and made her way over, taking Michelle in her arms and planting a passionate minute-long kiss right on her mouth.

"Hey lover!" Tammy had to shout to be heard over the din of the band.

"Hi," Michelle replied.

"I was about to call you! Where've you been?"

"Sorry -- I got held up."

"C'mon -- I want you to meet some friends of mine!"

Arm-in-arm, they started across the room. "Tammy, what is this place?"

"Oh, the 'Lizzie?' Just Port Landers' premier lesbian hangout." Tammy giggled. "Actually, it's Port Landers' only lesbian hangout."


Well. There it was. The label Michelle had tried to avoid putting to her relationship with Tammy.

She had known the word, of course, along with all of the connotations and images it brought to mind -- none of which seemed to fit her and Tammy.

Dammit, she didn't feel like she and Tammy were lesbians...Michelle had only thought of them as two people in love (who both happened to be women).

But then...what was being a lesbian supposed to feel like...?

"Trina, Janelle...this is Michelle," Tammy announced as they walked up to the booth.

The two women looked up and smiled. Neither woman was unattractive: Janelle appeared to be several years older than Trina. They had the demeanor of a couple who had been together for many years.

"Hi, Michelle," said Janelle. "Tammy here's been braggin' on you for days!" the older woman had a soft Southern drawl Michelle found pleasing to the ear.

"Have a seat, join us," Trina chimed in. Trina was about Michelle and Tammy's age, heavy set with short-cropped blonde hair, and a round attractive face that had fun and mischief written all over it. Janelle, by contrast, was tall and thin, and had chiseled features that might have made her look severe and dour, were it not for the dimples in her cheeks.

"You look very familiar," Michelle said to Janelle. "Have we met?"

"I don't know. Did you ever go to PLU?"

"Class of 1996," Michelle replied. "Wait -- aren't you -- "

"Dr. Janelle Beauregard, professor of American lit," she said. Then, conspiratorially, she added, "a.k.a., 'the "Dizzy Dyke.'"

Despite herself, Michelle laughed. "I almost took one of your classes!" she said.

"Really? Why didn't you?"

Michelle shook her head. "No time -- I couldn't fit it into my schedule."

Janelle smirked. "Too would have loved my Faulkner class."

"I certainly did," Trina chimed in.

"Oh, did you two -- "

"I don't date my students," Janelle insisted.


Janelle shook her head. "It's against University policy, and I truly believe it to be unethical."

"Yeah, but what were you going to do?" said Trina, leaning her head on Janelle's shoulder.

Janelle smiled and kissed Trina on top of the head. "Well -- when this -- charmer started coming on to me after class...I told her flat out -- I don't get involved with students. Now...if after the semester, she was still interested -- "

"Oh, and I was!"

Janelle chuckled. "And the rest -- is history."

Michelle smiled and took Tammy's hand.

"So," said Trina, "how did you and Tammy meet?"

"She didn't tell you?"

"Well," said Janelle, "she did -- but we want to hear your version."

Michelle smiled nervously at Tammy, then said, "Well...we met one night over at Ashley's Place, downtown...about...oh, gosh honey...what's it been now?"

"It was exactly three weeks ago tonight, lover." Tammy leaned over and kissed her.

"I guess it was...anyway, she'd been watching me -- "

"So it's like she said!" Trina said gleefully.

Michelle looked at Trina and Janelle, then back at Tammy. "What did you say?"

Tammy smirked, then replied, "I said we picked each other up in a bar."

Michelle slapped Tammy's hand lightly. "Tam-mee! My gods!"

"Well, it's true, isn't it?"

"Uh -- I suppose...but it sounds so cheap when you put it like that!"

"Oh mija," said Tammy, hugging her close, "I'm sorry -- I didn't mean anything by it -- "

"Hey, it's okay," said Janelle, who, along with Trina, was laughing. "Love is where you find it."

Michelle smiled and kissed Tammy. " are right about that."

Gradually, Michelle warmed up to the atmosphere and began enjoying herself, depite the noise level. She danced with several people...and even availed herself to Janelle for a slow foxtrot. Janelle, it turned out, was a ballroom dancer of considerable skill; it was the first "slow dance" Michelle had ever had with someone where her partner wasn't grabbing her ass and grinding himself against her leg.

Finally the band took a break. Michelle sighed with relief when the noise finally stopped and she could talk without shouting -- but was short-lived when a blaring jukebox replaced it. One of the musicians came over to their table.

"Hey, Tam," the pleasant young (and obviously gay, Michelle observed) man said, putting a hand on Tammy's shoulder.

"Hey, Philippe," she replied.

"You ready to come up this set?"

"Ready and willing, mijo," she said cheerfully, looking up and giving him a peck on the cheek.

Philippe continued over to the bar for a drink, and Tammy stood up and stretched. "Well, girls," she announced, "I've got to go warm up. Mishi, you'll be alright with these ladies?"

Michelle looked at Janelle and Trina, grinning. "I'll be fine," she replied.

"We'll look out for her," Trina chimed in.

The band started back up a few minutes later. They played one number, then the leader announced: "Okay, ladies (and what came with you)... we're gonna bring up out star vocalist right now -- keep an eye on this girl, she's gonna big someday: from San Juan, Puerto Rico: Miss Tamara Luisa Carvallo!"

Amid loud applause, cheering and whistling, Tammy came out on stage and took the mike as the band started a hard-driving rock tune.

Michelle just sat through the first three selections, listening and staring at Tammy in awe. Ye gods, she's incredible, she thought.

"Hey -- wanna dance?" Michelle looked up. It was the "Leather Queen" who had come on to her outside earlier.

"Hey, Kerri," said Trina.

"Oh, hi, girls. How's it goin'?"

"Can't complain," said Janelle.

Kerri turned back to Michelle. "So how 'bout it?"

Michelle looked at Trina and Janelle. Janelle chuckled and said "Go for it -- she looks scary, but she's harmless."

"Yeah, well, up yours, too," said Kerri with a twinkle in her eye. All three laughed.

Michelle shrugged. "Why not?"

Michelle danced two tunes with Kerri, then started to return to the table, when Tammy spoke into the microphone.

"Hi, welcome to the Tin Lizzie, and thanks for coming. You know, there's someone very special out in the audience tonight...and when she told me she was coming down here, I got with these guys and gals and worked up a special song that I'd like to dedicate to her." Michelle felt herself blush. Tammy looked straight at her and added, "Mija -- for you."

The band ran through a few opening chords. Michelle felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned to find Trina standing there.

"Janelle and I are leaving -- just wanted to say how nice it was to meet you."

Michelle smiled and gave Trina a quick hug. "Thanks," she said.

"Me too," Michelle looked over Trina's shoulder and saw Janelle waving at her. Michelle smiled and waved back, then turned back to the stage just as Tammy began to sing:

"Time after time/I tell myself that I'm

So lucky to be loving you -- "

Michelle felt herself melting inside. A tear came to her eye as she moved a hand over her heart...

"So lucky to be/The one you run to see

In the evening when the day is through..."

Oh, Tammy, she thought. She wiped another tear from her eye.

"I only know what I know/ The passing years will show

You've made my life so young, so new --

'Cause time after time/ I'll always know that I'm

So lucky to be loving you."

The pianist took a long, lush solo chorus while Tammy and Michelle gazed at each other. They came back to the last chorus, changed key, and Tammy's voice soared above it all as she sang the last line once more:

"Cause time after time/ I'll always know that I'm

So lucky -- to be lov-ing you."

As the band played the final chord, Tammy looked directly at Michelle, mouthing the words I love you. The room exploded into thunderous applause. Quickly, Michelle ran to the powder room to fix her mascara, then ordered another wine spritzer and returned to the booth. The band had finshed one more song, and were starting another -- a slow, dreamy ballad by Cole Porter. Michelle looked for Tammy on stage, but couldn't see her. Suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"May I have this dance?"

Michelle looked up -- it was Tammy. Without a word, she rose and allowed Tammy to lead her out onto the dance floor. Arms around each other, they swayed slowly to the music until the end of the song, ending their dance with a gentle kiss.

They returned to the booth and sat down. The room grew quiet; someone forgot to turn on the jukebox when the band took their break.

Michelle just gazed into Tammy's eyes for several minutes, not saying a word.

"Is everything all right, mija?" asked Tammy, finally.

Michelle nodded, taking Tammy's hand. "I am feeling so in love with you right at this moment," she said quietly.

"I love you, too, mija."

Michelle kissed the back of Tammy's hand -- then turned it over and ran her tongue playfully over her palm. "I am also feeling more incredibly turned on than I ever have in my life."

Their eyes locked again. The jukebox came on; neither one noticed as they moved their faces together, slipping their arms around each other. Tammy and Michelle closed their eyes, and their open mouths came together in the most passionate, tongue-tangling kiss they had ever shared. They kissed with a hunger and desire neither had ever known before.

Finally, Tammy said, breathlessly, "I want you,"

Michelle nodded. Slowly, there eyes still locked, they rose from the table. Michelle picked up her coat, and the two of them left.

They hailed a cab outside. Getting in the back seat together, Tammy gave an address to the driver, then pulled the curtain that separated them from the driver's seat.

During the ride, Michelle and Tammy kissed hungrily, putting their hands all over each other. They reached their destination none too soon, for Tammy had begun reaching up Michelle's skirt while Michelle had unbuttoned Tammy's dress, fondling her breasts. They quickly composed themselves when the vehicle stopped; Tammy pulled the curtain back and gave the driver a ten dollar bill before they stepped out of the cab.

Michelle didn't recognize the neighborhood; in actuality, she barely noticed it. Tammy led her into an old brownstone building (it looked to be an old Victorian house that had been partitioned into rental units), up some stairs, and into her apartment.

Tammy didn't bother to flip on any lights when they came in; instead, she and Michelle turned to each other and began kissing and feeling each other up, tugging at each other's clothing. Gradually, they moved to Tammy's bedroom, leaving a trail of clothing behind them; Tammy pulled away from Michelle long enough to light a pair of candles that stood next to the bed, which was an old canopy type with thin, gossamer curtains around it.

Nearly naked now, the two women got on the bed; Michelle lay back, and Tammy moved on top of her. Again, Tammy's mouth met Michelle's; their tongues caressed each other as their bodies once more entwined in passion.

They made love throughout the night and into the small hours of the morning, kissing every part of each other's bodies, tasting each other in every way they could imagine. Again, Michelle had the feeling of deja-vu, of having made love with Tammy before in another time and place; she could no longer imagine a time when it had not been like this. They rolled back and forth across the bed in an erotic tangle of arms and legs, exploring each other's bodies, and savoring the taste of each other's mouths...

They made love to almost to the point of complete exhaustion; finally, just as it was beginning to get light outside, Michelle and Tammy fell asleep -- right in the middle of a tender, probing kiss.